For years now, I've been a huge fan of the Silent Hill series. To date, I've owned and beaten every main game in the series except for Silent Hill: Downpour. I didn't own a Playstation 3 when this game came out back in 2012, but with the power of emulation, I've been able to play it over these past couple days. How does the newest main entry in this series fare? Let's find out!
Note: This review will contain some spoilers. Also, I did notice some minor graphical issues and frame drops throughout my experience due to playing on an emulator as opposed to an actual Playstation 3 console. I won't be considering those minor issues in this review however as they were not a fault of the game itself but of my computer and emulator.
Silent Hill: Downpour introduces us to our main character, Murphy Pendleton. He's an inmate who in the beginning of the game kills another inmate while in prison while the guards seemingly turn the other cheek to the whole situation. Following this incident, he boards onto a bus with other prisoners to go to another prison. During the ride however, the bus veers off a hill and crashes allowing Murphy to climb out and escape thus starting his adventure in Silent Hill.
Early in Silent Hill: Downpour's gameplay, the cracks really start to show through. The first "challenge" that Murphy comes across is having to walk across a fallen log. It's strange to say the least for a Silent Hill game, but I don't know how many times I fell off the damn thing before I finally got across. Okay, maybe it was just a few times, but why was this even in the game in the first place? It doesn't make much sense honestly. "Why?" was a question that I asked myself quite often as I played through this game.
The game from there seemed to get really hard to follow story wise. Half the time, I had no idea what was going on to be honest. Anyways...
The first thing that I remember about the game is having to run away from what I can only describe as a black hole. Yet again, I asked myself "Why?". This was not like any Silent Hill game that came before it.
The second thing that I remember about the game is having to run up an endless staircase for 10 minutes only to realize that it truly was endless only to have to turn around and BOOM... a way out appeared. Yet again, I asked myself... why?
Let's look at the bigger picture though.
The first thing that I really noticed besides those few gripes was the atmosphere and music. Honestly, I was very impressed by it! For the most part, it felt like a Silent HIll game. The graphics were what you'd expect from a Playstation 3 game. They were pretty good honestly. The music was creepy and always made me look over my shoulder thinking that something was just around the corner waiting to get me!
Another thing that Silent Hill games are known for is puzzles. This game certainly has them, but they're not executed quite as well as past games. Oftentimes, solving puzzles devolved to nothing more than running around in circles trying to find obscure items to solve them. It was strange and not in a good way. I spent a good 20 minutes just running around trying to find an item to fix a broken elevator only to realize that there was a piece of wire off in a corner somewhere that if I hadn't been looking for it I would have never found it. It wasn't terrible per say, but it wasn't fun.
Let's quickly talk about the combat. It sucks. No seriously, it's terrible. It feels clunky at the best of times. Most of the weapons in the game are melee weapons and it takes a lot of hits to kill an enemy, like a ridiculous amount. Did I mention that I was playing on normal difficulty?! You can block enemy attacks, but if you don't have a good weapon, blocking literally does nothing. You'll still get hit. Also, weapons break after being used enough times which is nothing new per say to the series. Fighting boils down to running away from enemy attacks and then running towards them and hitting them when there's an opening. If you have a good weapon, you can block attacks which at least makes combat feel decent. If you don't though, you're screwed. I died more times than I care to count because of the stupid combat system.
There's a story to this game, but I couldn't really tell you much about it. The characters are boring with nothing really notable about them. That's really sad honestly because Silent Hill games, while having unusual characters typically, are at least likable. I couldn't care the slightest about the characters or story in Silent Hill: Downpour though.
Time for the worst part of this game, the design. I've spoken previously about how the atmosphere and music is great so I won't bother mentioning it here because that's at least good. My biggest problem with this game is poor design overall when it comes to designs with level design and combat. Early in the game, you're exploring a motel with probably no less than two dozen weapons laying around at your disposal. You'd think you'd be fighting a ton of monsters, but no... at the end you face a single monster and that's it! Why the need for so many random melee weapons if we'll only ever use one at most?!
It gets much worse though. Later in the game when you really start fighting a lot of enemies, weapons are fairly hard to find and worse yet, there's damn near no first aid kits! Silent Hill games are known for being a bit greedy when it comes to health regeneration, but this game takes this to the extreme. Combat is brutal and it's made fucktons worse by having only a few weapons at any time and damn near no first aid kits. By the time you actually find a first aid kit, you'll be needing to immediately use it or risk dying shortly after.
The enemies are actually rather well designed so I can give some credit to them there.
Also, at one point you randomly lose your flashlight and your pistol for seemingly no reason. Why? I have no fucking clue. To taunt you though, right after that you find pistol bullets for a pistol that you no longer have.
This game has some things going for it but it seems like everytime it takes a step forward, it takes several back.
I really wanted to like this game, I really really did. After only three hours of playing it though, I just couldn't find myself to finish it.
Final Score: 4/10
"It has some things going for it, but falls flat in so many other areas. With a bit of polish, this could have been a good game. It's a shame honestly. If you're a die-hard Silent Hill fan then this game is at least worth a try. Otherwise, do yourself a favor and skip out on this lackluster Silent Hill game."